Incident At Newark Charter School Leads To Student Sit-In And Many Questions…

I had an email forwarded to me this evening concerning an incident at Newark Charter School earlier this week.  While checking to see if something happened, I found the News Journal already covered this.  But what the News Journal didn’t publish was the email Newark Charter School’s Greg Meece sent to the parents about the altercation between a teacher and a student.  You can see that below.  But I have several dozen questions about this incident which didn’t even come up in the article.  While I respect the fact that Meece can’t talk about the incident because it involves an employee, the comments on the News Journal article spin many different tales…

He said the incident was in a classroom earlier this week and involved a female high school student and teacher in a physical altercation over a cell phone.  He added the cell phone did not belong to the student.  Meece said neither was at school Friday, but no formal disciplinary action has been taken at this time.

Excuse me?  A teacher has a physical altercation with a student and NO arrest was made?  Seriously?  Since when can a teacher have ANY type of physical altercation with a student?  Has the student and teacher been out of school all week?  Where is the due process for the student and the teacher if NO formal disciplinary action has been taken at this time?  Was “informal” disciplinary action taken?

This is the definition of a physical altercation, with certain words bolded for emphasis:

A physical altercation is defined as being an argument, dispute or altercation that involves force or physical aggression. Physical altercations differ from verbal altercations because physical contact is involved. These types of disputes are sometimes referred to as fights and may legally qualify as battery.

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A peaceful gathering?  Maybe for the students, but according to this commenter on Facebook, the school wasn’t too happy about it…

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That is a very different yarn than the one spun by Greg Meece in his email to the parents and the News Journal:

“The principal of our building spoke to the students and thanked them for their voices and being heard,” Meece said.

What happens at Newark Charter Schools stays at Newark Charter School… until a student and a teacher have a physical altercation that is.  I don’t know why Newark Charter School treats itself like it is an isolated school cut off from the rest of the state.  How much goes on there that the public has no clue about?  If someone didn’t tip off the News Journal or myself on this, who would have known?  But we see teachers getting arrested in Delaware.  For more egregious things than this, but it happens.  Perhaps the teacher was defending herself.  But according to the above commenter, it was all a lie.  If there was any physical force involved, were the police notified?  The Senate Bill which minimizes when the police are called, Senate Bill 207, passed in the Delaware General Assembly this year, but it was very specific in its language to specify “between students”.  It did not mention staff members.  Which means Newark Charter School, if they did not notify the police, may have broken the law.  Whether it was a student or a teacher, if the matter became physical, they are legally obligated to do so.  Why didn’t the News Journal question that aspect of the story?

ncsincidentcomments3

Scandals?  Sweeping things under the rug?  I thought NCS was this model of good behavior and nothing happened there…

It is hard to believe this particular commenter in one aspect.  If this happened Monday, there is no possible way the parents could have sued the teacher in four days.  They may have talked to an attorney, but nothing moves that fast.  But they are absolutely right that students should have a voice.  The threats coming out of the administration when students were having a peaceful sit-in could have been treated with more respect if the above commenter’s comments are true.

What does Newark Charter School’s code of conduct say about this kind of incident?  It doesn’t reference this specific type of situation, but it does say this:

Referral to Police Agency is required for students who intentionally and offensively touch a staff member who is attempting to break up a fight or who is attempting to keep a student from injuring him/herself or others.  Recommendation for expulsion may be considered.

But they do reference House Bill 322, which the Delaware General Assembly passed in 1997:

In addition to any action taken by school officials, the school will comply with the notification requirements of H.B. 322 which includes notification of police.

This was in a section that talked about fighting.  I hate to keep beating on the same drum, but if this was an incident that was so minor, why would Meece refer to it as a “physical altercation” which has a very definitive legal meaning?

Are parents allowed to discuss this incident?  On the closed to members only NCS Parents Facebook page, it was a huge topic of discussion this week until the moderator deleted all the comments about it to protect the identity of the student and the teacher.  Even though all the parents already knew about it.  This was reported to me by a few parents of students who belong to that page.

Newark Charter School needs to be more open and honest with parents about situations, instead of putting on an “everything’s fine” face with the News Journal.  There was a lot Meece could have talked about with this article, but I’ve always been told Meece is a very smart man and chooses his words very carefully.  But no public school receiving taxpayer dollars should think they can isolate themselves from transparency.  They aren’t North Korea.

I’ve heard of many teachers at NCS getting fired with no form of due process whatsoever.  Delaware charter schools do not have teacher unions which, in this case, would have given the teacher protection if they were fired over this.  But we will most likely never know because of the isolationist mindset coming from this school…

Delaware AG Matt Denn Supports Parents In Upcoming U.S. Supreme Court Special Education Case

supremecourt

As the Chairman of the IEP Task Force in Delaware back in 2014, Delaware Attorney General (then Lieutenant Governor) Matt Denn stated in the first meeting that Delaware students with disabilities deserved more than what federal law under IDEA stated.  He announced yesterday he will advocate for special needs children getting a top-notch education.  Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme court decided to hear a special education case regarding what a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) really is.  The is significant due to the fact that special education changed a lot when IDEA was reauthorized in 2004.  This will be the first time the highest court in the land has tackled FAPE in a very long time.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a case from the state of Colorado involving the level of educational services that must be provided to public school students with disabilities. The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, is significant because it will be the first time in decades that the U.S. Supreme Court has addressed this issue, and different federal courts around the country have come to different conclusions on the question.

“This case may not have significant implications for Delaware public schoolchildren with disabilities,” Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said. “Delaware state law was changed in 2010, in a bill I worked on as Lieutenant Governor with Representative Quinn Johnson and Senator David Sokola, to require that Delaware public schools provide services to Delaware students with disabilities that matches the highest level of services required by federal courts interpreting this issue. However, sometimes the language that the U.S. Supreme Court uses in issuing its decisions can be as important as the decisions themselves. For that reason, the Delaware Department of Justice will be seeking to advocate – potentially with other state Attorneys General — for the U.S. Supreme Court to find that the highest level of services for children with disabilities currently recognized by federal courts is the correct level for all of the nation’s children, and for the Supreme Court to provide specific guidance to the states as to how to implement its decision in order to ensure that children with disabilities have an opportunity to fulfill their potential.”

denn

 

In regards to that bill from 2010, Denn said the following about the bill when it was introduced:

“It is completely unacceptable for us to tell the parents of most children that we want their kids to have the best public school education in America, while telling the parents of students with disabilities that their kids will receive the educational equivalent of a serviceable Chevrolet,” Lieutenant Governor Denn said. “We have a legal and a moral obligation to these children to provide them with a meaningful education, and this bill is a first step to making sure that happens.”

Denn has always been one of the strongest advocates in Delaware for students with disabilities.  I am glad he is putting his support behind the parents in this potentially landmark Supreme Court case.  With that being said, the very definition of special education will be redefined yet again if education reformers get their way with their dreams of “IEPs for ALL”.  I pray, if that time does come, that Matt Denn will be at the front of the pack for students with disabilities, their parents, and disability advocates to make sure special needs students don’t get lost in the shuffle.

In the meantime, the Delaware Dept. of Education, under the direction of Governor Markell in epilogue language in the FY2015 budget, is still working on a Special Education Strategic Plan for the state, more than two years since it was created.

Why I Accepted An Invite From The Delaware DOE To Join An ESSA Discussion Group

Because it’s time.  We have all heard the phrase, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.”  To many of the stakeholders in Delaware education, they believe this.  I’ve pretty much operated this blog as an outsider looking in.  I’ve vowed never to join anything.  But this isn’t a situation where I’m joining something permanent.  It is a temporary group and I will be one of just thirty people.  I will be on the “Student and School Supports Discussion Group.”  I would have preferred to be on the “Measures of School Success and Reporting” group, but I will take what I can get.  I don’t know who else is in my group or what stakeholder groups they represent.

I fully plan on being a part of a group and behaving as one of many.  But I will also do my due diligence on the issues and offer my voice.  For some out there, they may see this as a betrayal.  Like when celebrities do commercials for a company.  This is not me selling out.  It is getting in there and lending my voice.  These meetings will be open to the public, for both groups.  So it’s not like these are backdoor meetings.  I urge parents and teachers to attend these meetings.

The first meeting for both groups will be held at the John W. Collette Conference Center, 35 Commerce Way, in Dover from 6pm-8pm next Wednesday, October 5th.

The Charter School Office At The Delaware DOE Has A New Director

Denise Stouffer joined the Charter School Office at the Delaware Dept. of Education last April. but as of the past couple of weeks she became the Director of the Charter School Office.  She rose through the ranks to replace Jennifer Nagourney, who left the Delaware DOE on July 1st to join the New York City Dept. of Education.  But she had been working with the Delaware DOE for two years before that as a contractor with a title of “Data Governance Contractor”.  In 2010, she created a company called BHS Educational Services based out of Pennsylvania.  BHS specializes in helping individuals to create charter schools and professional development training.  Stouffer also helped out the DOE during their contract with Wireless Generation as a consultant that trained people on professional development and data driven instructional practices.  All this information is based on Stouffer’s LinkedIn account.  While her new title does not appear on that account, it was referenced in the Charter School Office presentation to the Delaware State Board of Education at their retreat earlier this week.

I have seen Denise Stouffer at meetings the past few weeks, whether at the State Board of Education or Every Student Succeeds Act meetings.  I was wondering who she was… now I know!  I had a decent relationship with Jennifer Nagourney and I hope the same can be said for Denise Stouffer.  I’m a pain in the ass at times.  But as I’ve always told folks at the DOE and written on here more times than I can count, if I’m barking up the wrong tree, let me know!  In any event, congratulations Denise!  You have big shoes to fill!

The Man Who Wants To Expand Charter School of Wilmington Models Across New Castle County

Kevin Dombrowski wants the Charter School of Wilmington model to expand around New Castle County according to an article by the Delaware Business Times yesterday.  Dombrowski works in Wilmington as the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development for Morningstar Inc.  The article was about his selection as an honoree of the DBT40, which are 40 emerging Delaware businesss leaders and innovators.  Dombrowski has also been heavily involved with the KIPP charter school chain.  He currently serves on the Leadership Council for KIPP Philadelphia Schools and was a board member at KIPP Chicago for three years from 2009-2011 according to his LinkedIn account.

I would work to remove the barriers in place to practical educational reform in Delaware. Specifically, I would remove restrictions on new charter school developments and build out a plan to launch several new versions of the Charter School of Wilmington throughout New Castle County to meet the excess student demand and to provide more exceptional public school options for families in the area.

Now I’m not sure how much Mr. Dombrowski follows education in Delaware.  I’m not sure if he is aware CSW has long been mentioned as a very controversial school based on their selective enrollment preferences.  I don’t know if he knows even the Delaware Dept. of Education will not consider CSW as a reward school based on those preferences (something that seems to have escaped their notice with Newark Charter School, but I digress).  I don’t think New Castle County could survive replication of Charter School of Wilmington as a chain of sorts.  Unless, of course, they did away with those selective enrollment preferences that result in very low numbers of minorities (except Asians), students with disabilities, and low-income students.   Then, and only then, would we be able to measure the true success of CSW.  Mr. Dombrowski, were you aware that CSW was one of the named schools in the American Civil Liberties Union complaint filed with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights?

U.S. Supreme Court To Decide The Value Of FAPE In Special Education

The  United States Supreme Court will decide the fate of millions of special education students in America when they rule on a controversial case regarding what the appropriate amount of FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) is for students with disabilities.  The landmark case, Endrew F. vs. Douglas County School District, could have major consequences for special education students.

According to Disability Scoop:

The Supreme Court’s decision to take up the matter comes at the urging of the Obama administration. In a brief issued last month, the U.S. solicitor general agreed with the parents that the IDEA requires schools to provide more than minimal benefit to students with disabilities.

“This court should hold that states must provide children with disabilities educational benefits that are meaningful in light of the child’s potential and the IDEA’s stated purposes. Merely aiming for non-trivial progress is not sufficient,” the solicitor general indicated.

This could be a moment of triumph or severe disappointment.  With the rise of Common Core and a transition from teacher-led instruction to constant bombardment of education technology and a competency-based education environment, students with disabilities have suffered the most from the constant education reform that has taken place over the past twenty plus years.  As their numbers rise, so do the corporate profits.  They have been forced to take a litany of state assessments that have the same results, year after year: these students tend to perform the worst on these tests.  The amount of parents choosing to go the home school route for their special needs children has risen dramatically in the last decade.

A free appropriate public education, in its current landscape, comes with a very steep price for students with disabilities.  Unless the Supreme Court clearly defines what FAPE should be, in the face of the overwhelming corporate-driven changes in our schools, these children will continue to be lost in public education.  Personalized learning, in the modern-day era meaning, would gear all students towards their own individual education plans which strips the special out of special education.  This flies in the face of what disability advocates fight for every single day.

From Common Core To Competency-Based Education: The Slimy Tentacles Of Billionaire Foundations

Their reach is everywhere.  Foundations who say they represent the best interests of children.  Who want to fix education so all children can get a shot.  Why then, do so many of the children of these philanthropists, politicians, and corporate education reformers, attend private schools?  Ones without the invasive education technology and Common Core standards?  That alone should tell everyone they are not in it for the kids.  For them, it is about the profit.  Servant and master.  They feel we should bow down to their infinite wisdom and do as they say.  The reports from the Department of Labor showing increasing jobs don’t paint the same picture as the doom and gloom coming from the education “prophets”.  They talk about gaps between disadvantaged students and their peers while putting forth policy that enforces those gaps, whether it is from standardized tests, “IEPs for All”, the false importance of education technology, or the perception that traditional school district teachers are horrible.  They are the incubators of discrimination and segregation.  But they fail to understand how their actions contribute to the outside factors our schools should not have to deal with, such as trauma and poverty.  With all their vast wealth and power, they don’t spend their money helping to ease these issues.  They believe that it is okay to track students into career pathways starting at the first moment they are able to take a test.  They don’t care that very personal information goes out to 3rd parties that have no business seeing any information like this.  They wrote the Every Student Succeeds Act.  They are the ones pushing for more charter schools.  They have the US Dept. of Education in their back pocket along with the politicians and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Governors’ Association.  They have many colleges and universities doing whatever they say.  But they are wrong.  What they are doing is the best for themselves, not the kids.

commoncore

The Sad Legacy Of Delaware Senator David Sokola

It’s hard to believe it has been almost 22 months since the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union and Delaware Community Legal Aid announced their complaint against the Delaware Department of Education and Red Clay Consolidated School District.  That complaint is sitting in the Philadelphia Office of Civil Rights collecting dust.  I read the complaint again this morning.  There is a legislator whose name is mentioned a few times in this complaint as the author of legislation that contributed to segregation in Delaware… Senator David Sokola.

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I’ve noticed in the past week that the upcoming General Election in Delaware has many wondering if Sokola’s accomplishments outside of education should give him a second chance.  I’ve argued that no matter what Meredith Chapman’s stances on education are, they pale in comparison to what Sokola has wrought.  To be honest, aside from a video interview with Delaware United and a citizen commenting on a Facebook thread that Chapman supports a parent’s right to opt out of the state assessment, I have not heard enough from her to get a good picture of her views on education.

cswvsredclay

Knowing what occurred in Delaware because of certain charter schools and their enrollment practices, I thought this would be a slam-dunk in the Office of Civil Rights.  But that office, an offshoot of the U.S. Department of Education, has been strangely silent.  I am aware these complaints take years to reach a ruling.  But the complaint itself says enough about Senator Sokola that any citizen reading it should be able to have a clear picture in their mind.  The complaint also talks about the ignored warnings and omens from many that came with Sokola’s legislation which led to de facto segregation in parts of Delaware.  I have never heard Sokola apologize for this.  I’ve never seen any indication that he understands any of this.

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David Sokola is a very intelligent man.  He is someone who sees data and facts.   His favorite word is “heartburn” when talking about legislation he doesn’t like.  I’ve heard from many about his support for non-education bills that were very progressive in nature.  But as I’ve always said, if you support legislation that will ultimately harm children, that is not very progressive.  Like the citizens of Delaware who offered warnings before harmful Sokola legislation passed in the Delaware General Assembly, I offer a warning to Delaware.  If the citizens of the 8th Senate District vote Sokola back into another term, Delaware children will suffer.  Numbers don’t lie, and even if those charter schools changed their enrollment preferences to get rid of pre-enrollment assessments, 5 mile radius, sibling preferences, employee preferences, or the many other little things that contributed to the eventual outcomes we now see, it will be years before the situation balances between those three charter schools and the districts around them.

The complaint against the Delaware DOE and Red Clay is below.

Not Today

mebeforeyou

Last night, I watched a movie released last summer called “Me Before You”.  The movie dealt with the basic eventualities facing human beings: life and death.  Without giving away the outcome of the movie, here is the basic premise of the movie based on the book by Jojo Moyes:

Will Traynor is struck by a motorcycle and becomes paralyzed from the neck down.  Traynor is deeply depressed and in a great deal of physical pain and anguish afterwards.  He was a very adventurous and daring man before this.  Having gone through many caretakers who were not able to deal with the troubled man, his parents hire Lou Clark, a woman from a low-income London family who does not subscribe to the status quo and is her own woman.  She doesn’t care how others view her at all.

After months of Traynor doing the same things he did with his other caretakers, eventually Clark is able to get Traynor to come out of his depression and smile.  The two form a deep bond.  Clark soon discovers her boyfriend is unable to deal with her passion for helping Traynor.  Meanwhile, Clark discovers Traynor told his parents he wants to end his life at a Swiss clinic in six months as he no longer has the will to live with his condition.  Clark makes it her mission in life to get Traynor to change his mind.

This is a story about love and sacrifice in its purest form.  Both characters changed because of their interaction with each other.  By the end of the story, they are not the same people.  Traynor begins to experience life again through Clark’s eyes.  Clark wrestles with what is best for Traynor: what she wants or what he wants.

This is a movie about a person with a disability.  Many disability advocates spoke out against the movie.  They felt what Traynor wanted to do was a cop-out and could give the wrong message to those afflicted with paralysis.  Is it considered “death with dignity” if that death is not imminent?  The movie talks a great deal about Traynor’s suffering and screams in the night, but does not show those moments of suffering.  It does show incidents where Traynor suffers from high fevers and a hospitalization.  The viewer is left with the impression Traynor suffers immensely from his disability.  Choosing the moment of our death is a question of faith and belief.  Many feel that is not our decision but that of God.  Others feel it is murder.  I don’t have the answers to those questions.  But it got me thinking, about life and death.  Do we embrace today or do the events of life determine who we are?

 

*Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture – © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Metro-Goldwin-Mayer Pictures Inc.

 

 

The Full, Unadulterated Email Chain Between The Delaware DOE And A Red Clay Teacher

Last Friday, I posted an article about a Red Clay teacher asking the Delaware Dept. of  Education for the student growth goals for their 2016-2017 evaluations.  The teacher who sent this to me sent it as screen shots.  Someone named “Penny” commented on the article last night suggesting that either myself or the teacher may have left out parts of the email chain in an attempt to make the Delaware DOE look bad.  This is what “Penny” wrote:

When you post emails as a way to inform your readers of what is occurring at DOE or via the general communication exchange from a teacher to personnel at DOE, it would be far more honest and a clearer picture if they were posted in entirety as opposed to cutting them down to exclude portions of one or an entire sections of the exchange. When portions of the email exchange are not included in your article, it is not fair to judge the response of the representative that you are shaming without either knowing or sharing all that was communicated. I am hoping that it was Mr. Fackenthall that failed to share the full exchange in its entirety rather than your deliberate omission of portions in order to taint a member of the DOE in order to make the response altered from what it stated. Taking it piecemeal and not in its fluid exchange changes the tone, content, and intent of the conversation by both parties. I hope there was no malice on your intent but rather you were misinformed and the full email exchange was not shared with you.

As I replied to the commenter this morning, the screen shots sent to me were very small, and I had to do some cutting and pasting of the emails to give the full picture for the original article.  As a result, the Red Clay teacher sent me the full email chain and I don’t see any changes to the content of the email whatsoever.  I hoped anyone reading the article would be able to follow the time-stamps on the emails.  But for clarity, here is the entire email chain:

 

From: Schneider Laura <Laura.Schneider@doe.k12.de.us>
Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 6:47 AM
To: “S. Fackenthall” <steven.fackenthall@redclay.k12.de.us>
Cc: Neubauer Jon <jon.neubauer@DOE.K12.DE.US>, Brake Kelley <Kelley.Brake@doe.k12.de.us>
Subject: Re: 2016-2017 growth goals

Thank you for sharing.

Laura Schneider
Director, Educator Effectiveness

Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Branch
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901-3639


From: Fackenthall Steven
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 6:11:48 AM
To: Schneider Laura
Cc: Neubauer Jon; Brake Kelley
Subject: RE: 2016-2017 growth goals

Thank you.  I still don’t understand WHY our educators can’t know what the student targets are PRIOR to the meeting.  This information apparently is already known since you take the scores from last year to create the target. 

I’m hopeful that these targets are REASONABLE.  I think we fail to address the diverse populations and learning needs within our buildings.

From: Schneider Laura
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 10:02 AM
To: Fackenthall Steven <steven.fackenthall@redclay.k12.de.us>
Cc: Neubauer Jon <jon.neubauer@DOE.K12.DE.US>; Brake Kelley <Kelley.Brake@doe.k12.de.us>
Subject: RE: 2016-2017 growth goals

Steven,

Jon sent you the rating targets, found in the DPAS-II Guide.  That is all you need.

Here is some additional info:

Group 1 Educators include any educator who instructs reading and/or mathematics for at least ten (10) students in grades four (4) through eight (8). The Student Improvement Component of DPAS-II for Group 1 Educators shall be comprised of one Measure A and one Measure B or C, weighted equally (50% for each).

· Measure A: Measure A will utilize student scores from the state assessment in ELA and Math. Growth targets are based on the state’s student growth model and are established by the Department of Education.

· Measure B or C: The second growth target is locally determined using a state-approved Measure B content assessment or Measure C growth goal.

The Delaware student growth model for Measure A measures student academic growth based on the state assessments in ELA and mathematics. The model uses a statistical growth model technique to identify the impact of an educator’s performance on student achievement, controlling for variables such as prior student knowledge and other student characteristics.  Measure A rating targets (found in the DPAS-II Guide for Teachers) needed for goal setting are as follows:

PLEASE NOTE:  Although individual student targets are not needed for the goal setting process, they will be made available to the field in October

Measure selection and goal target identification is based on professional conversation between the administrator and educator during conferencing. If agreement cannot be reached, administrators have final approval. Whenever possible, goal setting should include all students the educator instructs.

Please visit the Student Improvement Component policy document from the DOE website.

http://www.doe.k12.de.us/cms/lib09/DE01922744/Centricity/Domain/375/2016-17%20Component%20V%20Policy%20-%20FINAL.pdf

In addition, please take time to utilize our Goal Setting Resource Suite.

http://www.doe.k12.de.us/Page/2403

Laura Schneider

Director, Educator Effectiveness

Delaware Department of Education

Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Branch

401 Federal Street

Dover, DE 19901-3639

302-735-4262

laura.schneider@doe.k12.de.us

From: Fackenthall Steven
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 10:01 AM
To: Schneider Laura <Laura.Schneider@doe.k12.de.us>
Cc: Neubauer Jon <jon.neubauer@DOE.K12.DE.US>; Brake Kelley <Kelley.Brake@doe.k12.de.us>
Subject: Re: 2016-2017 growth goals

Once again, how can educators create appropriate goals for their students without knowing what the targets are?

Sent from my iPad

On Sep 20, 2016, at 9:45 AM, Schneider Laura <Laura.Schneider@doe.k12.de.us> wrote:

Not sure if Jon got back to you yet, but the individual student targets will be made available to the field sometime in October.

Laura Schneider

Director, Educator Effectiveness

Delaware Department of Education

Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Branch

401 Federal Street

Dover, DE 19901-3639

302-735-4262

laura.schneider@doe.k12.de.us

From: Fackenthall Steven
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 7:58 AM
To: Neubauer Jon <jon.neubauer@DOE.K12.DE.US>
Cc: Schneider Laura <Laura.Schneider@doe.k12.de.us>; Brake Kelley <Kelley.Brake@doe.k12.de.us>
Subject: Re: 2016-2017 growth goals

Thank you, Jon. Will the targets be made public?

While the student targets aren’t needed, educators would probably want to know what they are ahead of time as to best decide their goals.

Thank you.

Steven Fackenthall

Sent from my iPad

On Sep 20, 2016, at 7:02 AM, Neubauer Jon <jon.neubauer@DOE.K12.DE.US> wrote:

Steven-

Thank you for reaching out.

The individual student targets will be made available in early October.  However, you don’t need those for the goal setting process.

The rating targets have been established and can be found in the DPAS-II Guide (http://www.doe.k12.de.us/domain/375).  Below is a snapshot from the guid.

<image003.jpg>

Please let me know if you need additional clarification.

Jon

From: Fackenthall Steven
Sent: Monday, September 19, 2016 11:36 AM
To: Neubauer Jon <jon.neubauer@DOE.K12.DE.US>
Subject: 2016-2017 growth goals

Good morning Jon,

Can you refer me to the growth goals for SBAC ELA/Math this year?  

Thank you for your help.

Steven Fackenthall

Two Charter Schools, Two Private Religious Schools, & A Military Base Public School Win Delaware’s Blue Ribbon Schools

Newark Charter School and Sussex Academy, along with Dover Air Force Base Middle School, were the only public schools to win the designation of 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools.  Two private schools, religiously based, Christ The Teacher Catholic School and St. John the Beloved School also won.  So what made these schools get the prize this year?  I can’t answer for the religious schools, but for the public schools it was based on test scores for the Smarter Balanced Assessment and closing the “achievement gaps”, based on the very same test.  Yes, let’s continue the love for Newark Charter School which seems to win every award in the state anymore based on their Smarter Balanced performance.  They even got a Title I Distinguished school this year.  Not that they had enough Title I kids in the school, but because they lived in the same district with a ton of Title I students.  When will this love affair with this school end?  Enough already!  I guess all that BRINCmanship hasn’t paid off for all those school districts who joined that consortium!  Interesting that the two charters have less student sub-groups than the districts they live in!

From the Delaware DOE press release:

Five Delaware schools are among 329 schools that U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. recognized today as 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools, based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement.

 

Christ the Teacher Catholic School in Newark, Dover Air Force Base Middle School in the Caesar Rodney School District, Newark Charter School in Newark, St. John the Beloved School in Wilmington, and Sussex Academy charter school in Georgetown are among the 279 public and 50 private schools that will be honored at an awards ceremony November 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C. The school leaders: Sr. LaVerne King (Christ the Teacher Catholic School), David W. Santore, Ed.D (Dover Air Force Base Middle School), Gregory R. Meece (Newark Charter School), Richard Hart (St. John the Beloved School), and Patricia S Oliphant, Ed.D. (Sussex Academy) will be invited to attend the national awards ceremony with a teacher representative from each of their schools.

 

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap. Since 1982, the award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content. The National Blue Ribbon Schools flag gracing a school’s building is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. National Blue Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and a model for schools still striving for excellence. Now in its 34th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on fewer than 8,500 schools. 

 

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. The first category is “Exemplary High Performing Schools,” in which schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. The second category is “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools,” in which schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years. Student subgroup performance for each subgroup is at high levels.

 

The US Department of Education invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates private schools. A total of 420 schools nationwide may be nominated each year.

 

A listing of all National Blue Ribbon Schools in Delaware:

Christ the Teacher Catholic School               Newark             2016

Dover Air Force Base Middle School            Dover               2016

Newark Charter School                                Newark             2016

St. John the Beloved School                       Wilmington        2016

Sussex Academy                                        Georgetown      2016

Cape Henlopen High School                        Lewes               2015

Lake Forest East Elementary School            Frederica          2015

W. B. Simpson Elementary School               Wyoming          2015

Academy of Dover                                      Dover               2014

John M. Clayton Elementary School             Frankford          2014

Lake Forest North Elementary School           Felton               2014

The Charter School of Wilmington                Wilmington        2013

Richard A. Shields Elementary School          Lewes               2013

Allen Frear Elementary School                     Dover               2013

Linden Hill Elementary School                      Wilmington        2012

Harry O. Eisenberg Elementary School         New Castle        2012

Star Hill Elementary School                          Dover               2012

West Park Place Elementary School             Newark             2011

Long Neck Elementary School                     Millsboro          2011

Nellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School     Dover               2011

Christ the Teacher Catholic School               Newark             2010

Newark Charter School                                Newark             2010

Robert S. Gallaher Elementary School          Newark             2010

Woodbridge Elementary School                   Greenwood       2010

Marbrook Elementary School                       Wilmington        2009

East Millsboro Elementary School                Millsboro          2008

Sussex Technical High School                     Georgetown      2008

Lancashire Elementary School                     Wilmington        2007

Etta J. Wilson Elementary School                Newark             2007

Joseph M. McVey Elementary School          Newark             2007

North Georgetown Elementary School          Georgetown      2006

Lake Forest East Elementary School            Frederica          2006

Fairview Elementary School                         Dover               2006

Long Neck Elementary School                     Millsboro          2005

Booker T. Washington Elementary School    Dover               2005

Lulu M. Ross Elementary School                  Milford              2004

Frankford Elementary School                       Frankford          2004

Phillip C. Showell Elementary School           Selbyville          2003

Corpus Christi Elementary School                Wilmington        2001

Lord Baltimore Elementary School               Ocean View       2001

Padua Academy                                          Wilmington        1996

Seaford Middle School                                Seaford            1996

Sussex Technical High School                     Georgetown      1996

St. Matthew School                                     Wilmington        1992

Corpus Christi School                                  Wilmington        1990

Dover High School                                      Dover               1987

Skyline Middle School                                 Wilmington        1985

Christiana High School                                Newark             1984

Caesar Rodney Senior High School              Camden            1984

Brandywine High School                              Wilmington        1983

Shue Middle School                                    Newark             1983

 

Alison May
alison.may@doe.k12.de.us
(302) 735-4006

 

The Aspen Institute: The Futurists Who Turned Education Into A Corporate Game

Where are decisions made that affect every single person in America, as well as the rest of the world?  The Aspen Institute seems like a good place to look.

I first came across the Aspen Institute when I was researching the Rodel Foundation of Delaware two years ago.  It seemed like an odd outfit.  Since then I have written about them many times.

I urge readers to see which power brokers are in this élite club from their states.  Many influential current and former Delawareans are in this group based out of Aspen, Colorado.  People like Jack Markell, Mark Murphy, Paul Herdman, Lillian Lowery, Bryon Short, William Budinger, Lincoln Willis, Tom Kovach, Chris Coons, Collin O’Mara, Portia Yarborough, and Leo Strine.

The Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship is a who’s who of corporate education reformers.  The Rodel Fellows (yes, that Rodel), covers public leaders.  The Henry Crown Fellows is for “community-minded leadership”.  They have many other fellowships in this billionaire, political power players, and ed reform conclave.

The Aspen Institute is all in on the cradle to grave workforce of tomorrow.  They created the Ascend Network to which focuses on early childhood education, economic supports,  health, postsecondary/adult education, social capital, and the workforce.  With  funding from many philanthropic foundations, this is just another example of how the Aspen Institute is reshaping society.

One of their more recent articles focuses on the “Gig Economy”, which coincides with the Blockchain Initiative.  This has some very frightening ideas they think the next President and Congress should take up next year.

For conspiracy theorists, they often wonder if there are secret groups out there that decide what happens in the future.  This group isn’t so secret and thanks to the internet, we can see exactly who they are, what they have done, and what is in the planning stages.  We can also see who funds them:

aspeninstitute

All these foundations, creating the future.  The Aspen Institute, an invitation only select club where futurists go to play.  A tangled web of money and power, hitting every aspect of children and their future.  There are other groups like this out there, but this seems to be the one the biggest names in corporate education reform like to go and play.  I am very certain there are good things that come out of a group like this, especially those dealing with poverty and health.  But the price is decisions going on behind closed doors with big money backing all of it.  The rich always think they know what is best for those below them.  But history tells us otherwise.

Breaking News: The Delaware Academy of Yachting Charter School

Yes, you heard it right.  The Delaware Academy of Yachting Charter School.  This is a hot topic today at the State Board of Education Retreat down at Dewey Beach.  Perhaps you never heard of this school before.  But it exists.  At least on paper (or pdf if you want to be technical).  Did a charter school change their name?  Is this a new charter school?  I would have to assume this school is down in Sussex County if it is a yachting school.  The Delaware DOE loves to abbreviate everything, so they call this the DAY School.

delacadyachting

It looks like Happy Days are here again!  The last time I did an article like this was a few weeks ago.  I wrote Governor Markell submitted a video application to become Hillary Clinton’s (if elected President) U.S. Secretary of Education.  It was a joke.  It was the Governor’s weekly address.  Many folks didn’t read the whole article.  Let’s see if that happens again.

But the document talking about the DAY School does exist, as seen here.  Sometimes you just have to lighten the mood a bit.  The State Board is discussing the charter renewal process for this year’s charter renewals.  To give an example for the presentation, the Charter School Office created this imaginary charter school.  But someone will think this is the real deal.  Don’t.  It’s fake.  And no, I don’t consider this a waste of taxpayer money.

Delaware Competency-Based Education, Part 3: Union? We Don’t Need Your Stinkin’ Union!

How did the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition get around the Delaware State Education Association?

The Rodel Foundation, Delaware DOE, and the Competency-Based Learning Guiding Coalition had a meeting coming up on November 20th, 2014.  In the meantime, things were heating up with the priority schools, especially a looming showdown between the Christina School District and the Delaware DOE.  Many people felt no matter what Christina or Red Clay did, the DOE was going to take the six schools and convert them to charter schools.  The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium was getting ready to release the cut scores on the upcoming high-stakes test based on the field tests administered earlier that Spring.  The Delaware DOE was starting their town halls for their “school report card”.  They had released surveys to the public with ridiculous things like stop lights for grades (this eventually became the Delaware School Success Framework).  The IEP Task Force was in full swing and they were actively working on their final draft.  Unbeknownst to most, former Rodel employee Matthew Korobkin began his job in the Secretary of Education’s office at the DOE to begin work on the Special Education Strategic Plan.  This blogger had started doing some serious digging into Rodel after what I found out at the end of October of 2014.  The General Election came and went.  Matt Denn won the Delaware Attorney General slot in a landslide.  Two new state reps would have a dramatic effect on education in the General Assembly in the next year.

On November 19th, 2014, I released my mammoth Rodel article.  Knowing this little group was meeting in back-door meetings would have been good to know when I was writing that article.  It would have filled in some holes.  From what I heard from a few people, this article really rattled Rodel CEO Paul Herdman.  I know he was upset with me for daring to allege that Rodel would ever make money from hedge funds and somehow profit off Delaware education.  But in any event, the CBL Guiding Coalition was about to meet…

guiding-coalition-2nd-meeting

I tried the link referenced in the email to an Ed Week article, but the link no longer exists.  I have no doubt it reference some personalized learning school and how great it was.  When you look at the above email, note the word barriers.  If competency-based learning is supposed to be so great, why would there be any barriers?  At this point, it is probably a good idea to let folks know who was on both the Core and Advisory groups for this.

cbladvisorygroup

cblcoregroup

In terms of involvement, I don’t know if every single person participated in this CBL Guiding Coalition that was now divided into two groups. I do know, for example, that Yvonne Johnson with the Delaware PTA did not go to any meetings of this group whatsoever.  There were six district Superintendents and one charter Head of School on the coalition.  Quite a few of the teachers were also on the Rodel Teacher Council.  Note the presence of university and college members.  There was a specific reason for that which will come in later parts.  Now, on most education committees and task forces, or any type of education group, there is always representation from the Delaware State Education Association.  But not on this coalition!  To me, the key figures in this group were Michael Watson, Susan Haberstroh, Wayne Hartschuh and Donna Johnson.  They were (and still are) important people at the DOE who were in a position to let the ideas of this group come into being.

In terms of the barriers, the coalition was very visible with what the policy and system barriers could be:

cblbarriers

In answer to why DSEA wasn’t represented on this committee, I think the words “collective barg”, which would be “collective bargaining” gives a clear answer to that question.  Unless this is all about some secret archaeology plan, I can only assume “dig learning” is “digital learning”.

guiding-coalition-3rd-meeting

Policies on seat time?  What does that mean?  In a competency-based world, a student doesn’t move on until they master the assignment or concept.  They must be proficient.  So what measures that proficiency?  The teacher?  Or a stealth assessment embedded into the ed tech the student is working on?  I love how the DOE and ed reformers turn simple words like “jigsaw” into something else.  I know what they mean, but why do they do that?

By the time their January 2015 meeting came around, the holidays came and went.  All eyes were on the Christina School District as they valiantly fought the DOE on the three priority schools in their district.  Red Clay signed their Memorandum of Understanding with the DOE.  A financial crisis occurred during Family Foundation’s charter renewal.  The community rallied for Gateway Lab School.  Parents were talking more and more about opt out.  And the General Assembly was back in session…

To Be Continued in Part 4: Playing with regulations, priorities change, and the DOE and the Governor freak out…

Prologue

Part 1

Part 2

Who Funds Teach For America, KIPP, & Rocketship Education?

We know a lot of school districts, charter schools, and state departments of education give a ton of money to Teach For America, but who got the group going?  And who still funds them?  Let’s just say it is a lot of organizations!  Some of these foundations I had never heard of.  Keep in mind, this is the corporate Teach For America.  There might be foundations funding each state chapter.  For example, the Rodel Foundation loves giving money to the Delaware TFA!

Richard Barth is the CEO of TFA, but Wendy Kopp, Barth’s wife, runs the show.  But Barth runs the KIPP charter school chain.

tfafunders

Going from here, it is amazing how many connections between Teach For America, Kipp, the Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the NewSchools Venture Fund, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Charter School Growth Fund, and Tom Vander Ark exist.  It is important to know Vander Ark’s role in this because he is one of the biggest pushers for the death of traditional public schools through his competency-based education personalized learning career pathways earn to learn agendas.

chartermap

I’ll be doing more of these.  If any traditional school district unionized teacher isn’t very worried about their future, I would probably start doing something about it now.  Unless you want to be working as a facilitator in an online charter school in 2026.  This IS corporate education reform, but only a part of it.  It goes much deeper than that.  I’ve been telling people this for over two years now.  But sometimes pictures say a lot more than words ever can.

The Bidders For The Delaware Social Studies And Science State Assessments

The Delaware Dept. of Education put out a request for proposal for their Social Studies and Science state assessments.  For Social Studies, the bidding ended on 9/9 and for Science, 9/23.  This is the second time the Delaware DOE put out requests for these two tests and some of the same companies bid again.  I went into detail about some of those companies last December.  The last time both the state assessments were included in one big lump.  This time, they separated them.  I had a lot to say about the Social Studies request for proposal last month and how this could lead to embedded stealth testing in a constant online competency-based personalized learning environment.

Delaware System of Student Assessment in Social Studies

socstudiesbidders

Next Generation Science Assessment for Delaware Learners

scienceassessmentproposalsrcvd

The new bidders for these assessments are Measured Progress Inc. and WestEd.  Measured Progress is just more of the same according to Save Maine Schools.  They were the Smarter Balanced vendor in three states last year, but they couldn’t even handle the data capacity and had to shut down testing.  WestEd, though, is no stranger to Delaware.  This is a company that thinks online digital learning games with Curious George are just great for preschool.  They also have an extensive list of clients with some very familiar names.  Ironically, the Delaware DOE hired facilitators from WestEd for their Every Student Succeeds Act Community Conversations, along with Research In Action.  They even went into a partnership recently with NewSchools Venture Fund to expand small business data technology companies in K-12 classrooms.  How ironic that they received grant money from the Small Business Administration to fund ed tech start-ups while they are bidding for contracts that would measure the effectiveness of ed tech instruction with state assessments.  No conflict of interest there!  Strategic Measurement still has the same website as last year.  Both AIR and Pearson are still the lead players in the high-stakes testing arena.  None of these bidders signal Delaware ending the high-stakes testing arena any time soon.

Newark Charter School’s 16 Minute Board Meeting

I’ve listened to a few of the charter audio links.  But nothing was shorter than Newark Charter School’s 16 minute audio recording.  Their meeting, held on September 20th, didn’t discuss any aspect of the district-charter funding scuffle that monopolized Delaware education social media the first ten days of the month.  They didn’t really talk about much of anything, which is surprising given the school year started.  Their meeting minutes usually give an impression their meetings are longer than 16 minutes.  I hope we don’t run into a case where some charters go into executive session to discuss the big stuff.  Their audio gives no sign of how long they went into executive session to discuss “potential litigation”.  Unless they do have potential litigation.  It wasn’t on their agenda they put up September 9th but it was on September 16th.  When they came out of executive session, they did unanimously vote to move forward on the potential litigation.

You can listen to the very short meeting here.

 

Did You Know Rodel’s William Budinger Married Markle Foundation’s Zoe Baird?

A wedding of the education foundations!  Back in 2010, William Budinger, the founder of Rodel Inc., who sold the company and created the Rodel Foundations of Arizona and Delaware, married Zoe Baird, the President of the Markle Foundation.  She has held that role since 1998.  Her main focus, according to Markle’s website, is this:

She currently leads Rework America, the Markle Economic Future Initiative that is pursuing opportunities for all Americans to participate in the economy of the future.

Fascinating!  Both Rodel and Markle really seem to love the current “pathways to prosperity” push going on in many states.  The whole “career ready” part of “college & career ready”.  Kids don’t need a high school diploma when they can earn a certificate in high school!  Missouri Education Watchdog wrote an excellent article earlier this year about Markle’s plans in Colorado.  And it looks like Arizona wants some of that action too!  Thank God they have a Rodel Foundation in Arizona! It sounds like Governor Markell every time he talks to the media!  Please note: Markell and Markle are not the same thing (except in thought process).

Baird is best known in America as the Attorney General pick by President Bill Clinton who was not selected by the U.S. Senate back in 1993.  Apparently, it created a new word in the American lexicon: Nannygate.  But since then, Baird and Budinger have certainly been busy…

mucketymap

 

 

As you can see, this duo has tons of connections to the biggest groups attempting to dismantle public education.  They are all pushing for “career pathways”, competency-based education, and digital learning.  These are NOT our friends America.  Remember that.  I have no doubt if Hillary Clinton becomes President, we will see this unlikely match have more influence.

At this very moment, the CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, Paul Herdman, is giving a push to the Delaware Grantmakers Association.  I have no doubt the words Every Student Succeeds Act, Opportunity, Grants, and Money will come up.

 

 

Red Clay Piloting Common Core Standards-Based Report Cards

Standards-Based report cards are here.  Three schools in the Delaware Red Clay Consolidated School District, Cooke, Forest Oak, and Richey are beginning a pilot program this year for 2nd and 3rd Grade.  The plan is to have standards-based report cards for all elementary grades, K-5, by 2019.  Modeled after the Smarter Balanced “scores”, the goal is to align report cards with the Common Core standards.  Really Red Clay?  Really?  It was bad enough when you took on Standards-Based IEPs, now this?

redclaysbrcrationale

redclaystandardsbasedtimeplan

redclaysbrcwhatis

redclaysbrclearningbehaviors

redclaysbrcprogresskey

This is something Rodel has pushed for years through their plan for Competency-Based Education in Delaware (now the subject of a series I’ve been working on).  Note how the schools beginning this pilot aren’t exactly “struggling schools”, like the three priority schools in Wilmington.  This is how these kin of pilots go.  The suburban parents will lap it up because it is new and exciting.  The district will tell the board, “Look at this resounding success,” and lo and behold it is a part of the entire district.  I’m sure the Delaware DOE and Rodel were going “cha-ching” when they heard this.  Or perhaps they pushed Red Clay towards this.

Just another way Rodel has completely taken over education in Delaware.  Rodel estimated up to ten school districts and charters will implement these Common Core report cards this year.  I have to say I’m disappointed with Red Clay for drinking the Rodel Kool-Aid.  What are they thinking?  First they joined BRINC, now it’s 1:1 devices for all students and this.  Should they change their name to Rodel Consolidated School District?

 

Chapman Vs. Sokola On Education!!!! Must-See Event!

It looks like Meredith Chapman will have a chance to debate Senator David Sokola on education!  The Friends Of Christina are holding a forum where both will talk about their education platforms on October 27th, from 7:00 to 8:15pm.  I really can’t miss this one!

Please MARK YOUR CALENDARS for an important fall event!

FOCSD will host an education forum for Newark-area state senate candidates on THURS., Oct 27, 7:00-8:15 at Kirk Middle School.

Incumbent Dave Sokola (chair, DE Senate education committee) and challenger Meredith Chapman will speak to us about their education platforms and take questions from participants. Do you have questions, concerns, or ideas you would like to raise with the people campaigning to shape state education policies over the next several years? This is your chance to let Mr. Sokola and Ms. Chapman know what concerns families invested in our schools.

There’s no better time to bend the ear of elected & aspiring public officials than the weeks just before they are up for election!